OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Did you know that a home is four times more likely to flood than burn during the course of a 30-year mortgage? It's a statistic residents in Craig and Ottawa counties experienced first hand during the May 3-5 tornadoes, severe storms and flooding.
"One thing we know for sure about floods is that if your area flooded during this storm, it's likely to flood again," State Coordinating Officer Fred Liebe said. "So, property owners have a responsibility to themselves, their families and their neighbors to rebuild in a way that reduces future flood losses."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management (ODCEM) recommend the following steps when you rebuild or repair your home:
- Contact your local building permit office before you begin repairs.
- Follow local building codes and ordinances.
- Elevate residences at least one foot above base flood elevation.
- Raise electrical outlets, switches, light sockets, the main breaker or fuse box, utility meters, baseboard heaters and wiring at least one foot above potential flood levels.
- Connect all receptacles to a ground fault interrupter circuit to avoid shock or electrocution. A licensed electrician should do all the electrical work.
- Elevate outside air conditioning compressors and heat pumps on masonry or pressure-treated lumber, raising them at least one foot above the base flood levels.
- Relocate or elevate hot water heaters, heating systems, washers and dryers to a higher floor or to at least one foot above projected flood levels.
- Suspend furnaces that operate horizontally from ceiling joists if the joists are strong enough to hold the weight. Install a down-draft furnace in the attic, if allowed by local codes.
- Install flood shields for doors and other openings (after evaluating whether the building can handle the forces) to prevent floodwater entering.
- Install backflow valves or plugs to prevent floodwaters from entering through drains, toilets and other sewer connections.
- Rebuild with materials less likely to be damaged by water; e.g. use tile rather than carpeting.
- Anchor fuel tanks to the wall or floor using metal straps and fasteners to prevent them from overturning or floating away.
- Secure water heaters to nearby walls.
- Store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects where they won't be damaged by floodwaters.
- Consider relocating your residence outside the floodplain.
- Purchase flood insurance. Standard homeowners' policies do not cover flood damage.
For further rebuilding options and guidance, check out "The Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting," available on-line at http://www.fema.gov. You can also call the FEMA Distribution Center during business hours at 800-480-2520 and ask for publication #312.